Time waits for no man, and in the world of professional sports the window of opportunity is small. For former two-time, undisputed world heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe, most would say that his window has closed shut. Bowe, who never lacked confidence, has eschewed his naysayers and is well aware of his opportunity to return to the ring at the age of 43.
“Big Daddy Bowe” is ready to recapture the glory of his title as the “baddest man on the planet.” “I have to be smart about this, you know,” said Bowe via phone conversation Oct. 28.
This is not the champ’s first comeback to the sport he loves. After having his testicles bashed in by heavyweight contender Andrew Golota in two world title bouts, Bowe walked away from boxing. In attempt to make his mother proud and commit to training for a possible return to boxing, Bowe enlisted into the United States Marine Corp.
Unfortunately the military is not for everyone, as was discovered by the once world-class athlete. Consequently, Bowe quit just 11 days after him enrolled.
After a seven and a half years hiatus, Bowe returned to the ring on Sept. 25, 2004, and proceeded to do what he was born to do, knock people out. Bowe knocked out Marcus Rhode in the second round and defeated Billy Zumbrun by decision less than a year later.
Three years appears to be Bowe’s magic number as he returned to the ring in 2008 and defeated challenger Gene Pukall in an eight-round decision.
Bowe will be sitting with great company when he jumpstart his career again. Former two-time world heavyweight champion and world famous entrepreneur George Former made a successful return to the world stage at the age of 45 and defeated, then, world champ Michael Moorer in 1994. WBC Light Heavyweight Champion Bernard Hopkins is still kicking at the young age of 46.
“Absolutely,” said Bowe when asked does he believe he can be world champion again. “My thing is this, cuz, I don’t mean to offend anyone, but some of those guys aren’t as smart as me in the ring…I believe I can do well.”
Bowe’s rival challenger was his weight during his championship years, as he consistently had to wage war against it. Nevertheless, Bowe used his weight to his advantage.
The 6’5” heavyweight was always light on his feet and constantly on his toes. Big Daddy was never a wild puncher as each jab, uppercut, counter, right or left hook was calculated. Bowe used his weigh to absorb opponent’s blows, allowing them to run out of gas and get frustrated as the rounds progressed. The champ then would punish his challengers in route to a victory.
Bowe’s strategy was masterful against Golota and the challengers before him. Even in his first comeback attempt, Bowe’s weight was defeating him by way of decision. However, the weight was not enough to stop Bowe from knocking out other opponents who stepped up to challenge him.
Now, it’s back to the business of getting his weight down, so there will be no lay off.
“I get up early in the morning to run, and again around 3 p.m., then I go to the gym,” said Bowe as he prepares for a comeback, without any challenger scheduled. “What I’m doing right now is trying to get my weight down, become sharper, and do the things I once did. When I feel better and when I have my weight down, you know about 250, I can start boxing.”
Bowe is no saint and has had past run-ins with the law, which are well documented. Bowe had a reputation for being abusive. He allegedly battered his sister and in a separate incident kidnapped his wife and children. Bowe has been walking the straight and narrow for many years now and his marriage is stronger than ever. Now, the champ says this comeback is his primary focus.
In many instances, when a former elite professional athlete states his desire to come out of retirement to return to the sport that made them famous, the need for money is listed as a primarily reason.
Whether Bowe needs the money or not, it’s his business. If Bowe can still capitalize on the brand he built, he would be a fool to not seize the opportunity. Bowe’s magnificent career record (43-1), 33 by way of knockout, places him among one of the greatest boxers in history. Potential huge paydays await Bowe – if his return is successful. Big Daddy Riddick Bowe (the pride of Brooklyn, New York) aims to return to the glory of years past, but is still cautiously optimistic.
When Bowe was asked about the reason for his return, he kept his statement surprisingly simple.
“I was bored, I had nothing else to do…I’m still young for the sport at 43,” said Bowe.
Bowe has always been a man of few words, straight to be point and is not afraid to speak his mind. There’s no challenger scheduled for Bowe to fight because it’s too early. Moreover, as Bowe continued to talk, one of the main reasons for his return started to surface and it has to do with a fighter he believes has eluded him for years.
“I still think I can beat (Wladimir) Klitschko,” said Bowe with confidence. “I can intimate him and if I laid my hands on him, he’ll chump out.”
Bowe never had the opportunity to fight Klitschko. In his win over Pukall, Bowe was on the undercard for Klitschko-Hasim Rahman bout in Mannheim, Germany.
A matchup against Klitschko will be a bout Bowe would love to have, but only when the time is right. The former champ hopes that the Ukrainian’s camp doesn’t avoid him.
“I’m going to take my time, get myself together and hopefully, Klitschko will be right there…hopefully they won’t duck me,” said Bowe.
Boxing has taken a back sit to the world of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), as the sport has grown to become a major entertainment juggernaut and has commanded the top dollars for Pay-Per View customers over the past 10 years. MMA has evolved nicely as the skill level of the individual athletes combined with a strong sanctioning body and nationwide marketing muscle. MMA is becoming a huge draw.
Boxing currently has three elite fighters, Hopkins, WBC World Welterweight Champion Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and WBO Welterweight World Champion Manny Pacquiao. Among the heavyweights, Klitschko (35) is the IBF, WBO and WBA Heavyweight Champion of the world, with no legitimate contender in sight and fights primarily outside the U.S. This may be the major reason why Americans are out of touch with heavyweight boxers. History has shown that if the heavyweight division of boxing is great, the sport is great.
Since the decline of last great era of heavyweights with the names of Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Bowe, the sport of boxing has struggled to maintain relevance to the American sports fan.
Bowe could be the answer that the sport needs to put heavyweight boxing back on the map and help draw some original boxing fans back from MMA.
“The thing is this sport doesn’t have a heavyweight who is prettier than I am and can get down,” said Bowe. “When I step back into the ring, a lot of dudes will leave MMA and come back and at that point, it (boxing) should be exciting again.
“Think about this, there are no heavyweights here (in America) and no one who can talk American,” he continued. “Eventually, those fans will come back, too.”
There is no timetable for the former champion’s return to the ring. Bowe has a familiar name and many boxing fans would have the pleasure to witness his comeback.
Clearly, Bowe will return and the world of boxing, boxing fans and the champ will be benefit from the sport.